Chilli jam

Chilli jam

The Hang Fire Cookbook

This fairly simple chilli jam is an essential condiment with year-round appeal. We slather it in cheese sandwiches, glaze ham and stuff chicken breasts with it. We stir it through a beef chilli; you name it, we can find a use for it. We tend to stockpile red chillies and freeze them so we can make large batches a couple of times a year.


Quantity Ingredient
8 red bell peppers
10-12 fresh or frozen red chillies
1 tablespoon groundnut oil
2 red onions, chopped
1 fresh bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
100g soft light brown sugar
100ml balsamic vinegar
50g sherry vinegar


  1. First we need to get the skin off the peppers and chillies. Start with the bell peppers while you get the hang of it – the chillies will catch pretty quickly on an open flame so work fast. You can blacken the skins in a number of ways; we favour a hot barbecue either on the grill or directly on the coals, turning frequently. You can also put the peppers directly over medium-high flame on a gas hob, using long tongs to turn them as they blacken. Or use a griddle pan or blacken them under a hot domestic grill.
  2. As soon as the peppers and chillies are pretty much black all over, transfer to a ziplock bag and seal, or to a plate and cover tightly with cling film to make them sweat. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove all the skin (you might want to wear disposable gloves for the chillies).
  3. Next, trim off all the stalks and deseed the bell peppers. If you like your jam hot and spicy, leave the seeds in the chillies. If you like it milder, remove them and the membranes. Pulse the peppers in a food processor to a rough paste – not mush – or finely chop by hand.
  4. Add a splash of groundnut oil to a medium-sized pan set over low heat. Cook the onions for 10–15 minutes, until they begin to caramelise. Add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, garlic and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for a further 10 minutes, until the onions look rich, golden and sticky. Stir in the chopped peppers and chillies, sugar and vinegars, and continue to cook for 15–20 minutes, until the mixture thickens and is sticky and reduced. Make sure you have a window open as the vapour from the chillies can burn your eyes and nose. Add the remaining salt and pepper, and adjust to taste (this will be tricky as the mixture will be spicy and hot!).
  5. When you’re happy with the consistency, remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. While hot, transfer to sterilised jars. We like to leave it for 24 hours to allow the flavours to meld together. It will keep for 2–3 months in the fridge.

One for the hot heads…

  • If you’re chilli addicts like us, you might want to experiment with the variety of chillies you use. We’ve made batches with added scotch bonnets as they have that perfect West Indian fruitiness and also habanero chillies that usually have us hankering for pollo mole and tequila shots (and a glass of milk in some cases). You can even add a Thai twist with very hot Thai chillies, a little lemongrass and a dash of fish sauce. Have fun with this and make it your own.
Deep South
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